I’m Feeling Judged

Our Moms Circle is wonderful.  It is a circle of mothers who come and bare their souls with love and honesty both in the asking of questions, and the answering, the telling of trials, and the listening.  We strive to listen with our hearts, and ask questions of the mother in need, to help her find and say her own truth and answers.  Sure, we have advice and compassion for getting bit, sick babies, starting solids and every other mom-topic.  But we also have a safe place to cry and heal and share understanding.

We’re open to all moms and babies.  We don’t bill ourselves as adhering to a particular parenting style, because parenting styles are too generic–too one-size-fits-all–to be applicable to real families.  We do encourage and support each other in listening to our babies and responding to their needs in the best way we are able.  So, yes, we do tend towards the crunchy, the natural, and the attached…and the popular tenets that those labels accompany.

A brief discussion of circumcision, in which everyone who spoke agreed it was terrible, suddenly culminated in the confession from one of our moms that her baby is circumcised.   She spoke about family pressure and a medical history of one family member.  Then another mom spoke up.  Her baby is circumcised, too.  She spoke of her research while pregnant, her husband’s feelings, and the fact that she is embarrassed to change her baby’s diaper at our group.  Mom number three instantly spoke up with the same feeling, and expressed regret about her one year old’s circumcision and told how she cried through the Bris.

As we talked, it became clear that just about everyone there had something they were embarrassed about in their parenting choices.  Some felt conspicuous for using disposable diapers.  Some were embarrassed to formula feed at the group.  And several people would get fast food on the way to group and then deliberately NOT bring it in to our crunchy, natural, mom meeting.  So we got to laugh at ourselves some.

It was suggested that Evelyn of the Peaceful Birth Project re-institute her opening statement at each group, that there is a lot of information here, and each of us should take what rings true for us and leave the rest.

But in the main, as we discussed what is making various members feel judged, it wasn’t anything another person was doing or saying.  It seems to be internal.  When we have regret, and wish we could have done something differently, we definitely perceive judgment because we are judging ourselves.  But even those parenting choices with which we are 100% sure about can lead to discomfort when we are alone in those decisions among a group who differs.

In the case of circumcision, we talked about how most of us would have circumcised our sons at some point in our lives, and it was only a question of whether we became informed before or after giving birth to a little boy.  We talked about finding acceptance and forgiving ourselves.  We talked about how to talk to our little boys about what happened, or how to address it if they have siblings who remain uncircumcised.  But the fact is that a mother might still intend to circumcise her next son.  All of the understanding seemed based in the assumption that no one would want to do this, after they found out.  And those of us who feel strongly about it, cannot imagine a mother who WOULD want to do it.  But we don’t get to choose for every mother.  We get to choose for ourselves and our sons.  And our group is open to ALL mothers.

I know that I don’t feel judgmental of mothers who circumcise their sons.  But I do feel that it is entirely worthwhile to passionately spread information for that mother’s next son, and for the other women who might have sons.  To forebear out of politeness would be cowardly.  I never want to make a mother feel badly about her parenting choices.  But we can all benefit from gaining knowledge and experience from which we can make better and better choices.  The choices are completely up to the individual, but the knowledge is public domain and every mother is entitled to it.

So, our little moms circle cleared the air.  And it was really nice.  I wish the internet could follow our example and have Mommy Circles instead of Mommy Wars.

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